A slightly different title this month to reflect a little tweak. Don’t panic it’ll still include my book hauls, but I’d also like to shout about those few books I might actually manage to read, as well as any other book related initiatives that don’t really fill a whole blog post. So sit back here goes!
Books I read this month – yes I actually did some reading!!
This has been sitting on my book shelf since 2015 so reading it was long overdue. Very easy to get drawn in and I liked the device of having the commentary from Eve, the murdered woman. A good twisty thriller that kept me hooked. My decision to step back from reviewing was definitely the right decision though as I’ve already forgotten who the murderer proved to be!
I know who attacked her.
The same man who killed me…
Six years ago Melody was left for dead. When the body of another woman, Eve, is discovered, Melody knows her attacker is still out there. The only way she can survive is to follow the clues of the life that Eve left behind.
Another that’s been on my Kindle for a while but worth well worth waiting for. There are certainly sins a plenty and difficult at times to think about the reality that they represent. A great police procedural with a good team dynamic that I’m keen to see develop.
It’s true what they say . . . revenge is sweet.
A baby, minutes old, is forcibly taken from its devastated mother.
The body of an elderly woman is found in a Dublin public park in the depths of winter.
Detective Inspector Tom Reynolds is on the case. He’s convinced the murder is linked to historical events that took place in the notorious Magdalene Laundries. Reynolds and his team follow the trail to an isolated convent in the Irish countryside. But once inside, it becomes disturbingly clear that the killer is amongst them . . . and is determined to exact further vengeance for the sins of the past.
A lovely, warm read about the realities of upping sticks and sticking your toe in the water of ex pat life. Is the grass always greener on the other side of the fence? Well in this case no – it’s likely to have been eaten by Foteini’s goats! Part travelogue, part history this very personal memoir is a love letter to the characters that inhabit their little bit of paradise in the Mani, and an homage to the force of nature that is Wallace, the Jack Russell.
After an Arctic winter, a British recession, and a downturn in the newspaper industry, two journalists and their dog embark on an adventure in the wild and beautiful southern Peloponnese in 2010. A perfect plan, except for one thing – Greece is deep in economic crisis. And if fiscal failure can’t overturn the couple’s escapade in rural Greece, perhaps macabre local customs, a scorpion invasion, zero dog-tolerance, and eccentric expats will. This is a humorous and insightful journey through one of the last unspoilt regions of Greece. It is full of encounters with warm-hearted Greeks who show that this troubled country still has heroes, if not euros.
Continuing my policy of reading my backlog, this little gem delighted me. After I visited Girona earlier this year it made this book more real. Is it weird to be delighted you know the sites of some pretty gruesome deaths? A great guide to Girona and it’s folklore as well as introducing a fabulous female detective in Elisenda Domènech. Happily I already have the next two books waiting for me.
A gripping crime thriller set in Catalonia.
A killer is targeting hate figures in the Catalan city of Girona – a loan shark, a corrupt priest, four thugs who have blighted the streets of the old quarter. Each corpse is posed in a way whose meaning no one can fathom.
Elisenda Domènech, the head of the city’s newly-formed Serious Crime Unit, is determined to do all she can to stop the attacks. She believes the attacker is drawing on the city’s legends to choose his targets, but her colleagues aren’t convinced and her investigation is blocked at every turn.
Battling against the press, the public and even some of the police, she finds herself forced to question her own values. But when the attacks start to include less deserving victims, the pressure is suddenly on Elisenda to stop him.
The question is: how?
Twenty-five years ago, a woman and her baby son were kidnapped and held to ransom. Catriona Grant ended up dead and little Adam’s fate has remained a mystery ever since.
When a new clue is discovered in a deserted Tuscan villa – along with grisly evidence of a recent murder – cold case expert DI Karen Pirie is assigned to follow the trail.
She’s already working a case from the same year. During the Miners’ Strike of 1984, pit worker Mick Prentice vanished. Where did he really go? And is there a link to the Grant mystery?
The truth is stranger – and far darker – than fiction.
Tilly was a bright, outgoing little girl who liked playing with ghosts and matches. She loved fizzy drinks, swear words, fish fingers and Catholic churches, but most of all she loved living in Brighton in Queenie Malone’s magnificent Paradise Hotel with its endearing and loving family of misfits. But Tilly’s childhood was shattered when her mother sent her away from the only home she’d ever loved to boarding school with little explanation and no warning.
Now an adult, Tilda has grown into an independent woman still damaged by her mother’s unaccountable cruelty. Wary of people, her only friend is her dog, Eli. But when her mother dies, Tilda returns to Brighton and with the help of her beloved Queenie sets about unravelling the mystery of her exile from The Paradise Hotel, only to discover that her mother was not the woman she thought she knew at all …
Mothers and daughters … their story can be complicated … but it can also turn out to have a happy ending.
Rachel’s relationship with her mother, Eleanor, has always been far from perfect. Eleanor is a renowned artist born from the swinging sixties, and Rachel has forever lived in the shadow of her success.
When Rachel is left by her fiancé on the morning of their wedding she has no choice but to move back into her family home and spend an unbearably hot summer with a mother she feels distant from – in the presence of many painful memories.
It will take another turn of events before Rachel realises that sometimes the past holds exactly the comfort we need. And that behind the words left unsaid are untold stories that have the power to define us.
Augusta Hope has never felt like she fits in.
At six, she’s memorising the dictionary. At seven, she’s correcting her teachers. At eight, she spins the globe and picks her favourite country on the sound of its name: Burundi.
And now that she’s an adult, Augusta has no interest in the goings-on of the small town where she lives with her parents and her beloved twin sister, Julia.
When an unspeakable tragedy upends everything in Augusta’s life, she’s propelled headfirst into the unknown. She’s determined to find where she belongs – but what if her true home, and heart, are half a world away?
Part tender love story, part murder mystery, part hilarious description of a wasted life, and interspersed with some of the funniest poems about the mundane and the profound, Diary of a Somebody is a stunningly original novel from Twitter sensation, Brian Bilston.
It’s January 1st and Brian Bilston is convinced that this year, his New Year’s resolution will change his life. Every day for a year, he will write a poem. It’s quite simple.
Brian’s life certainly needs improving. His ex-wife has taken up with a new man, he seems to constantly disappoint his long-suffering son, and at work he is drowning in a sea of spreadsheets and management jargon. So poetry will be his salvation. But there is an obstacle in the form of Toby Salt, his arch nemesis at Poetry Club and rival suitor to Liz, Brian’s new poetic inspiration.
When Toby goes missing, just after the announcement of the publication of his first collection, This Bridge No Hands Shall Cleave, Brian becomes the number one suspect. If he is to regain his reputation and to have a chance of winning Liz, he must find out what has happened to Toby before it is too late.
The Doll Factory by Elizabeth Macneal is the intoxicating story of a young woman who aspires to be an artist, and the man whose obsession may destroy her world for ever.
London. 1850. The greatest spectacle the city has ever seen is being built in Hyde Park, and among the crowd watching two people meet. For Iris, an aspiring artist, it is the encounter of a moment – forgotten seconds later, but for Silas, a collector entranced by the strange and beautiful, that meeting marks a new beginning.
When Iris is asked to model for pre-Raphaelite artist Louis Frost, she agrees on the condition that he will also teach her to paint. Suddenly her world begins to expand, to become a place of art and love.
But Silas has only thought of one thing since their meeting, and his obsession is darkening . . .
Everyone has a place they call home. But who gets to decide where you belong?
For years Bilal Hasham and his wife Mariam have lived contented, quiet lives in the sleepy rural village of Babbel’s End. Now all that is about to change.
On her deathbed, Bilal’s mother reaches for his hand. Instead of whispering her final prayers, she gives him a task: build a mosque in his country village.
Mariam is horrified by Bilal’s plan. His friends and neighbours are unnerved. As outrage sweeps Babbel’s End, battle lines are drawn. His mother’s dying wish reveals deeper divisions in their village than Bilal had ever imagined.
Soon Bilal is forced to choose between community and identity, between faith and friendship, between honouring his beloved mother’s last wish and preserving what is held dear in the place that he calls home.
She says she’s innocent.
DO YOU BELIEVE HER?
Melissa Slade had it all: beauty, money, a successful husband and beautiful twin babies. But, in the blink of an eye, her perfect life became a nightmare – when she found herself on trial for the murder of her little girls.
Jonathan Hunt covered the original Slade Babies case for the local newspaper. Now that new evidence has come to light, Jon’s boss wants him back on the story to uncover the truth.
With Melissa’s appeal date looming, time is running out. And, as Jon gets drawn deeper into a case he’d wanted to forget, he starts to question Melissa’s guilt.
Is Melissa manipulating Jon or telling him the truth? Is she a murderer, or the victim of a miscarriage of justice?
And if Melissa Slade is innocent, what really happened to Ellie and Amber Slade?
There are so many ways to fall…
Catriona needs help. Her seventeen-year-old daughter Elena was found dead at the bottom of a cliff near her boarding school. The death has been ruled a suicide, but Catriona isn’t convinced.
When her old friend, journalist Alex Devlin, arrives in Hallow’s Edge to investigate, she quickly finds that life at private boarding school The Drift isn’t as idyllic as the bucolic setting might suggest.
Amidst a culture of drug-taking, bullying and tension between school and village, no one is quite who they seem to be, and there are several people who might have wanted Elena to fall…
Harrogate attracts hundreds of players to the annual Games Convention and for one player it is the perfect opportunity to kill by the mechanics of his own sinister game. Each victim will die in the same way. Each will be classed as the loser and their time will have run out. The escape room and the game table will draw more, each believing they are invincible. However, in every game there is always a traitor waiting in the wings. The latest in the bestselling Harrogate Crime Series.
January, 1662. The artist Rembrandt, bankrupt and drunk, stows away on a boat for Hull. To pay his passage, he must paint the captain’s portrait. For himself, he paints the captain’s beautiful wife, hoping to seduce her as he has many sitters before. But he has a rival – none other than the poet Andrew Marvell. Will it be a poem or a portrait that wins the favours of the captain’s passionate – and scheming – wife?
Hundreds of years later, the captain’s derelict house on the banks of the River Humber is being restored. Within its walls Amy Dale, a painter, discovers the traces of Rembrandt and Marvell’s artistic duel – and, crucially, the captain’s wife’s secret journal. As well as the story of the seduction, the journal gives a first-hand account of Rembrandt at work in Hull – on two portraits that have never come to light…
Amy keeps the journal secret – though she tells her lover. But that may have been a mistake. And as she paints a portrait of the man she is becoming involved with, so she uncovers the secrets of the past. For now it seems she is being drawn into a new triangle of deceit and seduction, over which the presence of Rembrandt hangs like a ghost…
Still recovering from the tragedy that hit her team, Elisenda takes on a new case. Except it’s not new. On an archaeological dig by the coast a body is uncovered, seemingly executed with a spike thrust through the front of the skull – an ancient tribal ritual. It soon becomes clear that this body is neither ancient nor modern, but a mysterious corpse from the 1980s.
Assigned to the case along with her team, Elisenda soon uncovers a complex world of star archaeologists, jealousy and missing persons. They find a dark trade in illicit antiquities, riddled with vicious professional rivalries. And even though she’s staying close to the crime scene, Elisenda is also never far from enemies of her own within the police force.
Just as the case seems to become clear it is blown wide-open by another horrific murder. Elisenda must fight her personal demons and office politics, whilst continuing to uncover plots and hatreds that were long buried. How far will she go to solve the crime? Is her place in the force secure? And can she rebuild her life?
When Maisie Meadows finds herself single and jobless on New Year’s Day, she resolves that this will be the year she focuses on bringing her scattered family back together. Romance is all very well, but it’s the people you grew up with that matter the most.
But a new job working at an auction house puts her in the path of Theo, a gorgeous but unattainable man who she can’t help but be distracted by. As their bond begins to grow, Maisie finds herself struggling to fulfil the promise she made to herself – but the universe has other ideas, and it’s not long before the Meadows family are thrown back together in the most unlikely of circumstances…
Can dealing with other people’s treasures help Maisie to let go of the past, and teach her who she ought to treasure the most?
When Mike and Gally Martin move to a cottage in Somerset, it’s to make a new start. But the relationship comes under strain when Gally forms an increasingly close attachment to an old countryman, Ferney, who seems to know everything about her.
What is it that draws them together? Reluctantly at first, then with more urgency as he feels time slipping away, Ferney compels Gally to understand their connection – and to face an inexplicable truth about their shared past.
Be careful what you wish for…
Wife to heart surgeon and control freak, Tom, and mother to four adolescent children, Rosie feels taken for granted as she juggles family life and her work as a teacher. She longs for a change of life.
When she hits a teenage boy with her car, her life explodes into uncharted territory. The boy is Robbie – and Rosie discovers he is part of a terrible secret that Tom has kept for seventeen years. Then Rosie is diagnosed with breast cancer.
Rosie leaves home and begins the fight for her life. Meanwhile Tom, is forced to learn what it means to be a husband and father. He struggles to keep his family together and strives to get his wife back.
From the Scottish Hebrides to the Middle-East, Displacement is a soul-searching journey from grief to reclamation of self, and a love-story where romance and realism meet head-on.
Divorce, the death of her soldier son and estrangement from her daughter, leave Hebridean crofter, Rachel Campbell, grief-stricken, lonely and lost.
Forced retirement leaves former Edinburgh policeman Jack Baxter needing to find a new direction for his life.
When Rachel meets Jack in dramatic circumstances on a wild winter’s night on the island of Skye, a friendship develops, despite very different personalities. Gradually their feelings for each other go beyond friendship. Something neither of them feels able to admit. And it seems unlikely they’ll get the chance to because Rachel is due to leave for several months to visit family in Israel – where she aims to re-root and reroute her life.
Set against the contrasting and dramatic backdrops of the Scottish island of Skye and the contested country of Israel-Palestine, Displacement is a story of life-affirming courage and love.
Comforted by the gentle hum of the beehives at the bottom of the garden, Grace drains the last of her tea and walks slowly back towards the little hillside house she adores. Her marriage is over, but is it too late to start her life again?
Beekeeper Grace thought throwing out her cheating husband would be the hardest thing she ever did. But when she opens the door to a property developer one morning, it’s clear that keeping her beautiful home and garden – her only sanctuary throughout her miserable marriage – will be the greatest challenge of all…
Fleeing to her best friend at the farm next door, Grace blurts out all her problems, only to be overheard by Amos, a handsome, free-spirited visitor with a twinkle in his eye. Fascinated by Grace and her bees, Amos offers to stay in the village of Hope Corner, to help turn her home into a guest house in return for lessons on beekeeping.
As Grace shows Amos how to nurture a hive and harvest honeycomb without getting stung, he is charming but secretive. He never stays long in the same place after an incident in his past involving a mysterious woman named Maria. But as their eyes lock over a jar of homemade honey, Grace can’t help feeling that she’d really like him to stay…
Determined to dispel her growing suspicion that Amos is running from something serious, Grace goes in search of the truth about Maria. But when she finds it, will she still want Amos to put down roots in Hope Corner, and will they still have a house to return to?
No matter how far they travel, bees will always find their way home…
Berlin, 1989. As the wall between East and West falls, Miriam Winter cares for her dying father, Henryk. When he cries out for someone named Frieda – and Miriam discovers an Auschwitz tattoo hidden under his watch strap – Henryk’s secret history begins to unravel.
Searching for more clues of her father’s past, Miriam finds an inmate uniform from the Ravensbrück women’s camp concealed among her mother’s things. Within its seams are dozens of letters to Henryk written by Frieda. The letters reveal the disturbing truth about the ‘Rabbit Girls’, young women experimented on at the camp. And amid their tales of sacrifice and endurance, Miriam pieces together a love story that has been hidden away in Henryk’s heart for almost fifty years.
Inspired by these extraordinary women, Miriam strives to break through the walls she has built around herself. Because even in the darkest of times, hope can survive.
1968. Veronica Moon, a junior photographer for a local newspaper, is frustrated by her (male) colleagues’ failure to take her seriously. And then she meets Leonie on the picket line of the Ford factory at Dagenham. So begins a tumultuous, passionate and intoxicating friendship. Leonie is ahead of her time and fighting for women’s equality with everything she has. She offers Veronica an exciting, free life at the dawn of a great change.
Fifty years later, Leonie is gone, and Veronica leads a reclusive life. Her groundbreaking career was cut short by one of the most famous photographs of the twentieth century.
Now, that controversial picture hangs as the centrepiece of a new feminist exhibition curated by Leonie’s niece. Long-repressed memories of Veronica’s extraordinary life begin to stir. It’s time to break her silence, and step back into the light.
Struggling artist Jimmy Whistler is at war with his patron. Denied full payment, he and muse Maud Franklin face ruin.
As Jimmy’s enemies mount, he resolves to sue a famous critic for libel, in a last-ditch attempt to ward off the bailiffs. Although she has no position in society, Maud is expected to do her part. But Maud has a secret that forces her to choose between art and love.
Mrs Whistler is a dazzling glimpse inside a world of passion,
art and power.
At the Ramillies Country House in Sussex, the Sixth Hartington Festival is taking place.
With peacocks strolling across the lawns to the sounds of classical music, Ramillies seems idyllic.
But then Eden Hartington, conductor, impresario, and founder of the Hartington Music Festival, is found dead.
No one seems to want to talk about what happened – except for Eden’s daughter Anna, obsessive about her late father, who is determined to keep his memory alive.
Another death, that of Dominic Leigh, the gifted, wayward trumpet-player also threatens Anna’s beloved music festival.
Brilliant and charismatic, Dominic was the only thing that made Penny Beaumont feel alive. But with Dominic gone and her dependable marriage becoming suffocating, Penny feels the atmosphere at Ramillies is about to boil over.
When Anna announces that she is ready to sacrifice everything to keep the failing Festival going, including the career of Adam Beaumont, Penny’s husband and the brilliant young conductor who has succeeded her father, there is no shortage of people who have a vested interest in stopping her.
Then she is shot and Adam is arrested for her murder.
Penny Beaumont is desperate to prove her husband’s innocence.
But has her obsession with his genius blinded her to other, darker sides of his complex character?
Alys is fine – don’t try to find us
Izzy Grant is haunted by the abduction of her newborn daughter five-years ago. When a postcard arrives from her missing partner, the man she believes is responsible, saying they’re fine and asking her not to try to find them, she knows she can’t give up hoping. Then she sees a face from her past. Grace Madden. Just where did she disappear to all those years ago? And is there a connection between her disappearance and that of her child?
DC Gabriella Darin, recently transferred from Swansea, is brash, bolshie and dedicated. Something doesn’t fit with the case and she’s determined to find out just what happened all those years ago.
Lonely widow, Pippa, discovers a collection of notebooks full of her late husband, Dan’s humorous advice on how to live without him. Pippa’s notebook is red and contains his detailed instructions on how to fall in love again.
After fifteen years of marriage and three children, Dan believed he knew Pippa better than anyone else and was perfectly placed to give her his guidance when it came to matters of the heart.
From fashion advice to how she should act on a first date, Dan had all romantic bases covered. He had even given her suggestions on who to avoid and who to date.
Reluctant to follow Dan’s advice, Pippa enters the world of dating. She embarks on a comedy journey of self-discovery, with the help of her children and two best friends.
However, it isn’t long before Pippa is struggling to ignore Dan’s advice.
Why did Cameron Bright die?
He had started to remove his clothes as logic had deserted him, and his skin was cracked. Whatever had been going through Cameron’s mind when he was alive, he didn’t look peaceful in death.
Two brothers meet at the remote border of their vast cattle properties under the unrelenting sun of the outback. In an isolated part of Australia, they are each other’s nearest neighbour, their homes hours apart.
They are at the stockman’s grave, a landmark so old that no one can remember who is buried there. But today, the scant shadow it casts was the last hope for their middle brother, Cameron. The Bright family’s quiet existence is thrown into grief and anguish.
Something had been troubling Cameron. Did he choose to walk to his death? Because if he didn’t, the isolation of the outback leaves few suspects…
Primrose Farm is Rachel’s very own slice of heaven. Come rain or shine there’s always a pot of tea brewing by the Aga, the delicious aroma of freshly baked puddings, and a chorus of happy memories drifting through the kitchen.
But the farm is in a spot of trouble. As the daffodils spring, Rachel must plant the seeds of change if she wants to keep the farm afloat, and it’s all resting on a crazy plan. She’ll need one family cook book, her Mum Jill’s baking magic – and a reason to avoid her distractingly gorgeous neighbour, Tom . . .
Swapping their wellies for aprons, can Rachel and Jill bake their way into a brighter future? The proof will be in the pudding!
Wittenberg 1525. The unexpected marriage of Martin Luther to Katharina von Bora has no fairytale ending.
A sign of apostasy to their enemies, and a source of consternation to their friends, it sends shock waves throughout Europe.
Yet, as they face persecution, poverty, war, plague and family tragedy, Katharina’s resilience and strength of character shines through.
While this book can be read as a standalone, it is also the powerful conclusion to her story, begun in Katharina: Deliverance.
Tree Book purchases
Travel journalist Sarah Baxter provides comprehensive and atmospheric outlines of the history and culture of 25 literary places around the globe, as well as how they intersect with the lives of the authors and the works that make them significant. Full-page colour illustrations instantly transport you to each location. You’ll find that these places are not just backdrops to the tales told, but characters in their own right.
Travel to the sun-scorched plains of Don Quixote’s La Mancha, roam the wild Yorkshire moors with Cathy and Heathcliff or view Central Park through the eyes of J.D. Salinger’s antihero. Explore the lush and languid backwaters of Arundhati Roy’s Kerala, the imposing precipice of Joan Lindsay’s Hanging Rock and the labyrinthine streets and sewers of Victor Hugo’s Paris.
Delve into this book to discover some of the world’s most fascinating literary places and the novels that celebrate them.
Subscription Book Clubs
Zoya Andropova, a young Russian refugee, finds herself in an elite New Jersey boarding school. Having lost her family, her home and her sense of purpose, Zoya struggles to belong, a task made more difficult by her new country’s paranoia about Soviet spies.
When she meets charismatic fellow Russian émigré Leo Orlov – whose books Zoya has obsessed over for years – everything seems to change. But she soon discovers that Leo is bound by the sinister orchestrations of his brilliant wife, Vera, and that their relationship is far more complex than Zoya could ever have imagined.
On the Road Not Taken is a memoir about the transformational power of music. It begins with a boy growing up in a small town on the Kent coast in the 1970s, who learns to play the guitar and dreams of heading out on the open road with a head full of songs. But when the moment comes to make the choice he is not brave enough to try and do it for a living.
Time passes but the desire to explain the world through music never goes away. And as the years go by it gets harder and harder to risk looking like a fool, of doing the very thing he would most like to do, of actually being himself. Eventually, thirty-five years later, when it feels like time is running out, he walks out onto a stage in front of 500 people and begins to sing again.
What follows is an extraordinary period of self-discovery as he plays pubs, clubs, theatres and festivals, overcoming anxiety to experience the joy of performance.
1960s New York, and Emma Bowden seems to have it all – a glamorous Manhattan apartment, a loving husband, and a successful writing career. But while Emma and her husband Jonathan are on vacation at the Hamptons, a child drowns in the sea, and suspicion falls on Emma. As her picture-perfect life spirals out of control, and old wounds resurface, a persistent and monotonous voice in Emma’s head threatens to destroy all that she has worked for… Taut, elegant and mesmerising, Don’t Think a Single Thought lays bare a marriage, and a woman, and examines the decisions – and mistakes – that shape all of our lives.
From the author of The Harrogate Crime Series. (‘Bridging the Gulf’ was previously published as ‘Engulfed’ as an eBook.) This fast moving, thought-provoking thriller is set partly in the stunning beauty and history of Turkish Cyprus. The novel follows one man’s struggle against faceless bureaucrats bent on negating the existence of Gulf War Syndrome. Roy Hanna is a driven man. On his return from the Gulf War, in which he was injured and his comrades killed, he appears to be a successful salesman with everything he could want. Behind his facade, he believes he is suffering from Gulf War Syndrome and that the Government is carrying out a massive cover-up. The lives of countless sufferers lie in ruins. He is determined that the Government should pay and he embarks on a bombing spree to ensure that it does.
With many thanks to Malcolm Hollingdrake
So another great month for additions but most of all I actually did some reading – hurray!! Not sure that 4 will make much of a dent in my my tbr mountain, but every little helps and it is real progress for me. Hope your month was as good.